HALIFAX: Nova Scotians will be going to the polls at the end of this month.
On April 30, incumbent Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil asked Lieutenant- Governor JJ Grant to dissolve the provincial government and call a general election, which is set for May 30.
McNeil said his party worked hard for Nova Scotians in the last term and feels the party is in a place where they can make key investments in the economy. While other parties have a different vision, he said the Liberals are asking residents to decide “which vision should move us forward.”
McNeil pointed to the budget the Liberals announced last week, which included $390 million for road upgrades and twinning, reducing taxes for more than 500,000 people, increasing the small business tax threshold to $500,000 from $350,000, reducing taxes for 1,800 small businesses, support for the recruitment and retention of doctors, and 30 new pre-primary sites with early learning programming for four-year-olds with a plan to expand this program province-wide in four years.
“We’re going to continue to provide a positive vision for this province,” he said. “We believe, as Nova Scotians, we work hard together as a group… to put this province in a good fiscal position to make the kinds of investments that we’re talking about. We’re going to work hard to communicate that message to Nova Scotians in the next 30 days. We’ll respect the decision they make but obviously we’re hoping they’ll give us the privilege of continuing to govern.”
Running for the Liberals locally are Randy Delorey in Antigonish, Michel Samson in Cape Breton-Richmond, Lloyd Hines in Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie, and Bobby Morris in Inverness.
“I’m very proud of the team that we have there,” McNeil said of the Strait area candidates. “We’re proud of the work we’ve been doing and we look forward to coming out and campaigning with all of the candidates.”
Jamie Baillie, leader of the Progressive Conservatives, laid out his party’s action plan, the Rebuild Nova Scotia Fund. Baillie believes the fund will grow the economy and create jobs by investing $2 billion on roads, bridges and other public infrastructure. Highlights include twinning Nova Scotia’s most dangerous highways, high speed Internet in rural Nova Scotia, a new Victoria General Hospital, and doubling the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal’s Rural Impact Mitigation (RIM) budget.
As for what his government has to do in order to take government, Baillie said it is all about leadership.
“Stephen McNeil has been telling us that we’re broke, that we’re have-not, that we’re poor for three-and-a-half years and he goes on a spending spree in the last few weeks,” he said. That’s not leadership. It’s actually depressing.”
Baillie said vision is needed to lead the province and believes he is the one with that vision and a plan of action.
“I have the best candidates, including Alana Paon in Richmond and Allan MacMaster in Inverness,” said Baillie. “People want new management and my job is to show them that we have the management team to get Nova Scotia going in the right direction.”
Ray Mattie is running in Antigonish for the PCs, while Rob Wolf is their representative in Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie.
“We’re rolling out a platform that is pro-growth, pro-jobs, that is optimistic about the future of Nova Scotia,” said Baillie. “It’s a very strong contrast to the McNeil message, which is about how broke we are and how there is no money for health care and no money for schools.”
Gary Burrill, leader of the Nova Scotia NDP, also unveiled his party’s game plan on May 1. Burrill said the NDP plans to invest $120 million over four years for health care. A release from the party stated the money will go toward “building new primary care clinics and hiring more doctors, nurse practitioners, and health professionals based on community needs.” Burrill called the NDP the party of care and wants to see all Nova Scotians receive care where and when it is needed.
Burrill said he is pleased to be fielding a full slate of candidates, noting 40 per cent of them are women.
“Our core thought at the moment is that the province needs a change in course, a change in direction,” said Burrill. “We have the single fastest rising food bank use of any province in Canada. We have the largest loss of young people’s employment on a percentage basis of any provincial jurisdiction. We have people all over the province waiting for placement in long term care.”
The NDP’s plan, said Burrill, is to invest in the health care, the communities, and the employment of residents.
“I think it’s a moment when people are nodding their heads about this idea,” he said. “You meet people in a lot of different categories. People in none of these categories are feeling great regard for the Liberal government.”
Burrill said he is proud of the local NDP candidates, including Moraig MacGillivray in Antigonish, Marney Simmons in Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie, Larry Keating in Cape Breton-Richmond, and Michelle Smith in Inverness.